C.J. Wilson agreed to a five-year, $77.5 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday joining the organization on the same morning the Albert Pujols signing rocked baseball.
Wilson turned down a six-year contract – worth more money – from the Miami Marlins to pitch in his native Orange County, Calif.
The free-agent left-hander arrived at the winter meetings Wednesday for in-person meetings with Angels and Marlins officials. The Rangers – the only professional organization Wilson had known – were not a factor in the final bidding, as they declined to match the Angels’ five-year offer.
Now, Wilson is joining the team that finished 10 games behind Texas in the AL West.
”I can’t say that was a primary focus” to take Wilson away from a top division rival, Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said.
The Rangers never seemed to make a formal offer and knew they weren’t close to what the Angels and Marlins would offer.
”I don’t see this as a punch, counter-punch thing,” Texas general manager Jon Daniels said. ”Our goal is to be as good as we can be within the parameters we have to work with.”
”We’ve been there twice and have to find a way to win it. To do so, you have to get back there first. So we have to find a way to make the playoffs. That’s our focus. We feel good about our club and where we’re at, but clearly the division got a little tougher,” he said.
The Pujols and Wilson signings could swing the American League West back into the Angels’ favor, after the Rangers won consecutive division (and league) titles.
“Winning the AL West just got a lot harder,” Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine said. “The (Angels’) starting pitching has been excellent, and their offense maybe was a little down (recently) – still dynamic, but not with the thump they had in the past. By getting (Kendrys) Morales back, and now Pujols, that certainly addresses that in a pretty prominent way.”
In Anaheim, Wilson will join Jered Weaver and Dan Haren to form arguably the best starting trio in the American League. First-year Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto will now decide whether to trade or keep Ervin Santana, who is scheduled to earn $11.2 million this year. That’s a high price for someone who would be the No. 4 starter in a stacked rotation.
"If we had our druthers, we’d prefer that (Wilson) didn’t go there," Levine acknowledged. "He’s a terrific pitcher. If they do get him, (that’s) a top four that rivals almost any team in the major leagues."
The Rangers, meanwhile, are expected to pursue a replacement for Wilson via trade (Matt Garza, James Shields) or the international market, following the news that Japanese star Yu Darvish was posted by the Nippon-Ham Fighters on Thursday. At present, the Texas rotation includes Derek Holland, Neftali Feliz, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, and Alexi Ogando.